Grace Bible College

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Grace Bible College
Type Private Undergraduate College/Graduate College
Established 1945[1]
Endowment $400,000[2]
President Ken Kemper
Vice-president Brian Sherstad
Academic staff
Students 900+ [3]
Address 1011 Aldon Street SW
Wyoming, MI 49509-9990
, Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
42°55′10″N 85°41′32″W / 42.91944°N 85.69222°W / 42.91944; -85.69222
Campus Suburban, 23 acres
CEEB Code 0809
Colors Blue and gold         

Grace Gospel Fellowship
National Christian College Athletic Association

Association of Christian College Athletics
Mascot Tiger

Grace Bible College is a fundamentalist-evangelical college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The college is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Association for Biblical Higher Education to award associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees. The college and affiliated organizations, such as the Grace Gospel Fellowship (GGF), hold to several doctrinal distinctives outlined below.


An outgrowth of the Bible college movement of the late 19th century, Grace Bible College began as an evening Bible institute in 1939 to train Sunday School teachers and other lay church members of the Fundamental Bible Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, whose pastor was Charles F. Baker. The program was enlarged in 1945 to a day school and named Milwaukee Bible Institute, which was then renamed following broader curricular options in 1953 to Milwaukee Bible College. In 1961 the college moved to a suburb of Grand Rapids (Wyoming, Michigan) and was renamed Grace Bible College.

These events were an outgrowth of a broader movement across the United States where several pastors and Bible teachers, sometimes in collaboration with each other, began to push dispensational theology beyond its traditional borders. In 1944, some of these pastors met in Evansville, Indiana, under the leadership of Pastor Herman Reich, to form the GGF as a means of promoting its doctrinal distinctives as a separate denominational body. Along with Reich and Baker, other prominent pastors in the GGF included J.C. O’Hair, Cornelius R. Stam, and Harry Bultema. The school expanded its mission in 1945 to include training pastors and lay leaders of other GGF churches, with Pastor Baker serving as president. Successive presidents have been Jack Dean, Sam Vinton, Jr., Bruce Kemper, and Ken Kemper, who is the current president.

Today, the college has programs across numerous majors such as business, education, exercise science, history, human services, and others. College leaders are currently considering a name change to reflect its broader educational mission.


Traditional dispensational theology holds that the Dispensation of Grace or the beginning of the "Church, the Body of Christ" started on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), but the doctrinal position of "grace" believers (a term that is often used within the college and its affiliated bodies to identify its adherents) is that the Church commenced with the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Some regard the conversion of Paul (Acts 9) as the beginning of the Dispensation of Grace whereas others consider the formal commissioning of Paul by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13) as the threshold. Taken together, these positions are often referred to as "mid-Acts dispensationalism."

Moving the beginning of the Church forward in the book of Acts alone would probably not have brought about a separate college and denomination. Charles Baker was a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), and mid-Acts dispensationalists typically have beliefs that are mostly consistent within the Acts 2 dispensational framework of DTS and other conventional dispensational groups. However, two outgrowths of mid-Acts dispensationalism are the belief that water baptism, as an ordinance for Israel, is no longer operative for this "Church age" and that Paul's epistles contain unique core distinctive doctrinal instructions for the Church. Per "grace" doctrinal distinctives, all of the Bible is "for" the Church, but only Paul's epistles are "to" the Church and thus contain the unique Pauline revelation of the Church. Even the gospels do not contain revelation that pertains to the truths that are distinctive to the Church age. These doctrinal positions, particularly the elimination of water baptism as a Church ordinance, became barriers to fellowship in traditional fundamentalist churches. Of course, some doctrines transcend all dispensations, such as moral purity, belief in God, and so on, but some stipulations of previous dispensations, including water baptism but also dietary restrictions, Sabbath observance, circumcision, and so on are no longer operative today as only revealed through Paul's writings. Traditional and mid-Acts dispensationalists sometimes get to the same place using different means. For example, mid-Acts dispensationalists agree with virtually all church bodies that world evangelism is a critical mission for the Church, but they reject the Great Commission and substitute "Our Great Commission" (II Corinthians 5:14-21) as their marching orders.

Some "grace" believers have periodically questioned the college's commitment to its doctrinal distinctives, or they think it has become too liberal along the fundamentalism-evangelicalism continuum. Other "grace" schools have existed from time to time to address what they consider to be deficiencies in the college's curriculum and values, but the institutional strength of the college far exceeds any of these other schools.

Students and faculty

Student demographics:

  • 66% Caucasian
  • 15% African American
  • 4% Hispanic American
  • 1% Asian American or Pacific Islander
  • 1% Native American

Almost 60% of the faculty hold terminal degrees in their fields. There is a 13:1 student-faculty ratio.

Athletics, clubs, and traditions

Grace Bible College fields teams in men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, and women's volleyball in intercollegiate competition. The college is affiliated with the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and the Association of Christian College Athletics(ACCA). The college has a Taekwondo club, licensed by the American Taekwondo Association. Basketball, bowling, golf, handball, racquetball, skiing, indoor soccer, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, and wallyball are available at the intramural level. There are also various student-led clubs that change from year to year.

National Championships:

  • 1994 - Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division 2A
  • 1995 - Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division 2A
  • 2006 - Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division 2
  • 2009 - Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division 2
  • 2010 - Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division 2
  • 2011- Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division 2
  • 2012 - Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division 2

National Runners-up:

  • 2006 - Men's Basketball - ACCA Division 1
  • 2007 - Women's Basketball - ACCA Division 1
  • 2016 - Women's Soccer - NCCAA Division 2

Student groups include drama/theater group, choral group, Ambassador Fellowship, Student Activities Committee, Student Council, Ambassador Staff, and Campus Ministry Team.

Community Life

Grace Bible College is a small, close-knit community with relationships fostered by four chapel events per week, small groups that meet within the dorms and open interaction between students and faculty. By the signature on the application to attend, students agree to live within a code of conduct which includes not using illegal drugs or alcohol and avoiding sexual immorality. Counseling is provided for students who struggle with those behaviors and still wish to attend. Staff and faculty are friendly and accessible, attending community events and eating meals with the students. Students participate in Christian ministry throughout their program of study, either in a church, the community, or at the college itself. Regular church attendance is also expected.


  1. ^ America's Best Colleges 2007: Grace Bible College: At a glance
  2. ^ a b Grace Bible College - Facts & Figures. Peterson's.
  3. ^ [1]. "IPEDS".

External links

  • Official website
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